France win World Cup in insane six-goal final

Jo Caldwell
July 16, 2018

The finale was a six-goal affair - complete with an own goal, a controversial penalty and a freak goalie error - the highest during regulation time in a World Cup final since the 5-2 scoreline in 1958.

Belgium captain Eden Hazard finished second in the running for the Golden Ball, with France's Antoine Griezmann, who also scored his fourth goal of the tournament in the final, coming third.

Croatia started full of energy but went behind in the 18th minute when a Griezmann free kick skidded in off the head of Mandzukic, who scored the extra-time victor against England in the semi-final.

Croatia were left nursing a burning sense of injustice when France restored their lead seven minutes before half-time through Griezmann's penalty, awarded by referee Nestor Pitana for handball against Perisic after a lengthy delay while VAR was consulted.

Robbie Jay Barratt- AMA  GettyImages
Robbie Jay Barratt- AMA GettyImages

With Vladimir Putin watching from the stands, France won its second World Cup title in a match that was interrupted by an on-field protest during the second half that Russian punk band Pussy Riot later took credit for.

Croatia, beaten by the French in the semi-finals in their first World Cup appearance in 1998, continued to press but their energy was sapped and France safely held out for the victory.

Millions of French fans were overwhelmed with joy on Sunday as France beat Croatia 4-2 to win soccer's World Cup in a pulsating final in Moscow, sparking ecstatic scenes of celebration from Paris to Marseille, from Lyon to Lille.

France will step to the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow to battle for the title against Croatia and the French tactician is upbeat that compatriot Didier Deschamps will lift the trophy for the second time, both as a player and a coach with the Les Bleus.

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We didn't expect the squad, with the experience it has, to make the semi-finals of the World Cup . They said what? Roberto Martinez, Belgium coach: "We wanted to win it".

The result is a World Cup that had goals aplenty and less red cards as players focused on playing the game.

Elsewhere, authorities said clashes erupted in the southern city of Lyon between police and about 100 people who had climbed on top of a police vehicle at an open-air showing of the match in the city centre.

For the small nation of Croatia, the loss spells bitter pain but fans at home will celebrate the best run in the nation's history, which featured a stunning win against Argentina and a semi-final victory against England. "We have some minor injuries but I hope we will overcome those today and all my players will be ready to play", the team's coach Zlatko Dalic said ahead of the final.

"It's just astonishing what they've done", said Josh, 41, who traveled from Brittany to Paris to watch the match with his girlfriend.

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"It hurt so much to lose the Euro two years ago, but it made us learn too and we worked so hard for 55 days here". This gives us strength and motivation. "We dominated and then the penalty was given".

"We are sad but proud at the same time", he said. It was Perisic's third goal of the tournament and undoubtedly the most important.

Luka Modric (two goals) is the man who makes Croatia tick.

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